MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved temporarily reducing the tariff rates on imported rice, and "further modified" tariffs on imported pork products to ease the burden on consumers, his office said on Saturday.
According to the Office of the President, Duterte heeded the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board because he wanted to "ensure food security and protect consumers."
Based on the Executive Order (EO) No. 135 (s. 2021), the tariff rates for imported rice were reduced to 35 percent from 40 percent in-quota and 50 percent out quota for one year.
The move was made "in order to diversify the country’s market sources, augment rice supply, maintain prices affordable, and reduce pressures on inflation," according to the office.
The tariff reduction, they added, considered the "increase in global rice prices, and the uncertainties" surrounding the steady supply of rice in the country.
Based on the EO No. 134 (s. 2021), meanwhile, the tariff rates for pork imports were increased to 10 percent for in-quota, those included in the minimum access volume (MAV), and 20 percent for the out-quota, or those outside the MAV, in the first 3 months.
This will also increase to 15 percent for in-quota and 25 percent for out-quota from the 4th to 12th month.
"Given the continuing spread of African swine fever (ASF) and its adverse effects, the adjusted tariff rates aim to strike a balance between the objective of making pork products available and affordable, and the concerns of all stakeholders especially the recovery of the local hog industry," the statement read.
"[The tariff rates for pork products were] further modified in recognition of the plight of all concerned sectors and stakeholders, including the local hog industry."
Duterte, also this week, raised the MAV of pork this year to 254,210 MT from 54,210 metric tons, "provided that the balance at the end of 2021 shall not be carried over to 2022," according to Malacañang.
He also declared a nationwide state of calamity over ASF, which slashed the country's pork supply.
Philippine pork production is estimated to have dropped 20 percent last year as the highly infectious ASF prompted the culling of more than 300,000 pigs, or about 3 percent of the hog population, based on government data.
Aside from increasing pork imports, the government is embarking on a massive pig re-population program to boost domestic meat supply.
— Reports from Jamaine Punzalan, Job Manahan, and April Rafales, ABS-CBN News